The request seeks to amend Judge Ralph Erickson’s order to resentence 68-year-old Alfonso Rodriguez. A medical examiner gave “unreliable, misleading and inaccurate” information about the cause of Sjodin’s death, and post-traumatic stress disorder could have caused Rodriguez to lose his sense of reality, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals judge ruled on behalf of the U.S. District Court of North Dakota in early September.
Defense attorneys for Rodriguez were ruled ineffective for not challenging the medical examiner’s opinion and failing to explore Rodriguez’s PTSD, Erickson opined as reasons for overturning the death sentence. However, the judge said, Rodriguez’s appeal attorneys, who are based in Philadelphia, did not prove his intellectual disability could be used to avoid capital punishment.
In an Oct. 1 filing, Rodriguez’s attorneys asked Erickson to reconsider his decision on intellectual disability, which could strengthen their arguments if prosecutors try to seek the death penalty again.
University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin was abducted and killed in 2003. (Forum News Service file photo)
A jury sentenced Rodriguez to death in 2007 for kidnapping the 22-year-old Sjodin on